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Aired April 12, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN, HOST: The Pope will ask for forgiveness why he says he mishandled a sex abuse scandal in Chile. And journalists jailed for doing their jobs inside Myanmar, two Reuter's reporters appear in court and express their outrage. Hello and welcome to our viewers around the world. I am Isha Sesay. This is Newsroom L.A.
The world's war drums are beating louder than ever after that suspected chemical attack in Syria. The Daily Telegraph reports British Prime Minister Theresa May is moving submarines within missile range of Syria. She's holding a cabinet meeting on the situation in the coming day. The White House said all options remain on the table.
But on Wednesday, Donald Trump announced the missile strike is imminent. And as Barbara Starr reports, this threat went beyond the President's typical Twitter rant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON, CORRESPONDENT: President Trump now using Twitter to promise an act of war, tweeting Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready, Russia because they will be coming nice and new and smart. This is the President who repeatedly said he would never telegraph military moves in advance.
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: America's enemies must never know our plans. I will not say when we are going to attack. We will no longer tell our enemies our plans.
STARR: The President's startling tweet catching allies and the Pentagon by surprise. A spokesman told CNN the department does not comment on potential future military actions. But Defense Secretary James Madison said the military is on standby.
JAMES MADISON, UNITED STATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We stand ready to provide military options.
STARR: U.S. intelligence agencies are locking down the final assessment of what chemical agent Syrian forces used.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still assessing the intelligence. STARR: The next key decision what targets to hit. Airfields,
helicopters, chemical storage sites, or escalate and hit Assad's regime, including government targets in Damascus. Satellites and other U.S. intelligence aircraft are now watching closely for signs that Assad, as well as Russian units is using the advanced notice to move aircraft weapons and personnel out of the way of a potential attack.
But Russia also has a key military move it will likely play.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russians have the air defense capability employed in Syria that could be a threat.
STARR: Moscow now knows now ticking the (Inaudible) and anti-air missiles towards airspace over the Mediterranean. European aviation authorities are already warning commercial airliners of possible missile strikes in the eastern Mediterranean in the coming hours. The U.S. hopes to get French and British aircrafts and ships to be part of the strikes.
The U.S. has two surface ships and possibly unacknowledged submarines off Syria ready to fire, satellite-guided, highly-precise tomahawk cruise missiles. The very tight odds smart missiles the President tweeted about. The Russian foreign ministry quickly on social media keying in on the President's use of the phrase smart missiles, with a warning and a question.
Smart missiles will destroy all evidence of chemical weapons use on the ground. The Russians perhaps not so subtly suggesting evidence could disappear. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: And Russian media reports Syrian government forces have now regained control of the Easter Ghouta at the Damascus suburb. It was one of the last major rebel held areas in the country. Its largest city Duma is the site of that suspected chemical attack over the weekend. U.N. estimates tens of thousands of people may still be trapped in the city.
CNN's Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon is live in Istanbul. Arwa, I want to start with that news just coming in to us from Russia state media that the Syrian government has retaken Eastern Ghouta. What does that mean for this conflict as a whole?
ARWA DAMON, CNN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Again, we're going to have to wait and see exactly what the dynamics on the ground are. But if that is in fact the case, this is a very critical (Inaudible) before the Syrian regime because that is basically the doorstep to Damascus, what it means for the civilians who somehow managed to have survived. Well, they are probably going to end up being bussed to various other refugee camps, either on the outskirts of that particular area or perhaps in Idlib province, which is basically one of the last major remaining opposition strongholds.
In it of itself is phenomenally overcrowded and under-resourced at this point. And just imagine having lived under siege for so long, having survived bombardment, having seen your friends, your neighbors, most likely your children, people you love and you've known your entire life perish in perhaps the most horrific of ways and have it all end like this.
[02:05:05] So many people and up surviving these sieges that we talked about, Isha, just keep trying to struggle at all. It is that they have been through it all. It is that they then have to continue to go through, because they are the ones, as we keep saying over and over again, who do end up paying the ultimate price.
But what has been increasingly clear as you watch the Syrian battle unfold with various different frontlines is that the regime is strong. And it is strong because it is able to act with impunity and it is able to do that because it has such strong backing from Russia and Iran.
SESAY: And as you talk about the strength of the regime and its backers of Russia and Iran. All eyes on what the U.S. will do, especially after that tweet by President Trump, saying you know missiles are coming to Syria. People saying you know effectively he was telegraphing what happens next. What's the view in Syria of what any -- what a possible strike will actually achieve?
DAMON: Isha, if we just look back to what happened almost exactly a year ago, after that alleged chemical attack that took place in (Inaudible) Trump Administration fairly quickly take action, bombing the airfield where the aircraft that delivered the strike were believed to have taken off from. Now that strike in it of itself didn't really cause that much damage, didn't really dunced the Syrian regimes air capabilities.
But at that point in time in talking to people, they're saying oh, look, at the very least this administration has done something. The problem is after that there was no actual action. It was something of a one off. And when people look at what's happening right now, despite the fact that we do have a significantly ratcheted up rhetoric, despite the fact that we do have France saying that it is also most likely going to be part of any sort of coalition that does potentially carry out these strikes.
The U.K. debating as well is the overarching question of what exactly is the end game. Is this going to be either a short or longer bombardment of certain key sites to send a message to the Assad regime and its various different backers, or is there something more strategic and long-term that could quite possibly be at stake here.
Because for the Syrian population, it's not just the chemical attacks that they have been subjected to, they are getting bombs on a regular basis. What people who you talk to in these various areas actually want to see what they have been asking for. Pretty much since the onset of all of it has been for some sort of -- at the very least no- fly zone to be put into place to spare them.
These kinds of bombardment and these kinds of attacks, but is the U.S. and its allies, are they going to be willing to actually go that far. Is there a long-term strategy in place? What's the end game? All of these are very serious unknowns. Added to all of that, Isha is if the Syrian regime decides to somehow retaliate or even if the Russians decide to retaliate. Who are they going to actually retaliate against?
The population that lives in these opposition areas certainly believes that they would most likely be the target, at the very least of the Syrian regimes wrath.
SESAY: Yeah. And that is a great concern for the people that what can happen and what could come next. There is also concern of what Russia would do. We know that the Russian Ambassador to Lebanon had talked to striking at any missiles that were fired, and going after the launch site. I mean as you look at the situation, Arwa, I mean what again could be the possible fallout, at least in terms of Russian reaction here.
DAMON: It could take what we're saying happening right now in a direction that, frankly, it's hard to believe anyone would actually want to see it go, because there's so many potentials that exists out there for this to escalate, even outside of Syria's borders at this stage.
There are so many potential retaliatory targets that the Russians could attempt to strike should they choose to do so. There are so many different ways that this could escalate to some sort of a confrontation between Polish and American aircraft over Syria and Russian ones, and then you all of the other different players that come into this.
There are also the Turks that are obviously on the side of the rebels here that will potentially be supporting any sort of strike against the Assad regime within Syria. They are also in an incredibly vulnerable position that you have a target outside of Syria that is potentially vulnerable as well. One can only hope that as this moves forward, those key global fighters that are essentially moving the pieces around on this chessboard will really, really be very heavily weighing all of the consequences of their potential actions, and what it is going to mean for everybody who is involved in this conflict.
[02:10:01] SESAY: Yeah, absolutely. And Arwa, there are some reports out there that the lag, if you will, between the comments made by President Trump on Monday where he affectionately promised that there would be a price to be paid. And obviously, the fact that we haven't seen any action to this point, that in this window, as military assets are being moved around -- military assets belonging to the Syrian regime.
What are you hearing? What are your sources telling you? Are those reports credible?
DAMON: To a certain degree, yes. And that would obviously be the logical thing for the Syrian regime to do, given that they have been given such an advance warning. And from a military standpoint, one can only imagine the U.S. generals cringing at the fact that the U.S. President did make such a bold and brazen statement so publicly. Because when it comes to the way that the military operate, obviously,
they do always want to understandably keep the elements of surprise. And this window, this gap has given the regime the opportunity to move around some of its assets, get some of its assets out of key locations that may be hit, and these air strikes.
And that is something that various reports on the ground are indicating, that yes, in fact has taken place. Of course, the other issue when it comes to debating these strikes and what actual targets are going to be hit is the calculus as to how close they are to these various different civilian populations.
Now it would not be the first time. Also, we would be seeing you know government or other entities that are under attack, trying to hide their assets within civilian populations. I am not saying that that's necessarily the case in Syria. But given that this window does exist out there, most certainly does give the regime ample opportunity to prepare itself for these strikes to take place as well.
But again, will bring into question how effective are they going to be, not just in the short term, but in the long term.
SESAY: Absolutely. And as we talk about possible strikes, you know obviously, as you've made a point, it is not just the U.S. and this is a coalition that we understand is being built. Just very quickly, what's our understanding of the roles that potentially could be played by the U.K. and France here?
DAMON: Well, the U.K. at this stage still needs to debate whether or not they're going to be involved. Although, all indications are at this stage that they most likely will be -- France has already come out and said that it would specifically be looking to be targeting these chemical weapons manufacturing sites.
As to what the U.S. is going to go after, we do know that there are a number of options on the table. And again, I go back to the point, though, that when you talk to people inside Syria, it is not just about targeting these chemical weapons sites, because they're not just being hit by chemical weapons. Yes, when those strikes do take place, they tend to dominate the headlines. They tend to cause this kind of outrage.
But if you look at that sheer number of casualties being caused by the various different types of weapons that are being deployed there, most of them are being caused by these barrel bombs and these various different aerial bombardments that are being carried out, both by the Syrian government and by the Russians. And if you were to ask Syrians living in these opposition areas, these various areas under siege, what is it that they really would want to see the outcome of this fee, it would be some sort of no-fly zone and some sort of, at the very least, guarantee that they will not be the ones who are hit in retaliation.
Because they don't at this stage really, Isha, have anyone or anything to protect them. SESAY: They have been suffering for so, so long. Arwa Damon joining
us there from Turkey, we really appreciate it. Thank you for the great conversation.
Mo Kelly is political commentator and Host of the Mo Kelly Show here in Los Angeles. Chris Faulkner is a Republican strategist and Senior National Strategist for Majority Strategies. Welcome, everyone.
SESAY: So the President putting out that tweet, warning of little heading straight for Syria. The thing is this is the man who has said many times in the past this. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, one of the things I think you've noticed about me is militarily, I don't like to say where I am going and what I am doing. I am not saying I am doing anything. I don't want to be one of these guys that say, yes, here's what we're going to do. I don't have to do that. We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, if I am mistaken, he is doing exactly what he has said time and time again he would not do.
MO KELLY, MO KELLY SHOW, HOST: Yes, or he's trying to do a head fake, where he's going to say he's going to do one thing and do the exact opposites. But unfortunately, he's already imposed -- self-imposed red line here, where she said he's not going to stand for further use of chemical weapons. So he's basically saying he's leaving himself no choice. It is just a matter of when not a matter of if.
[02:14:57] SESAY: Chris, this President has been scathing of President Obama in the past for, what he said was telegraphing action, inferior. Let's dig in to that old vault of tweets that the President has put out over time and read some of these. He says why do we keep broadcasting when we're going to attack Syria? Why couldn't we just be quiet? And if we attack them all, catch them by surprise.
I want to say is everyone is saying hi and confidently our country is being run by watching the mess with Syria. Our leaders don't know what they're doing. So again, some would view the President's tweets today, talking about missile coming, new and smart and heading for Syria. Some would say it's ironic. Some would say it's hypocritical.
CHRIS FAULKNER, MAJORITY STRATEGIES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND SENIOR NATIONAL STRATEGIST: Well, I think what it clearly shows is the President is upping the ante in terms of U.S. pressure on Syria and the regime there. You know the President is being criticized in the very, very recent history here is not being stern enough with Russia, not being stern enough with the Assad regime in Syria.
Now he's actually proposing real action. And of course, people are complaining he can. Whether or not he's telegraphing anything, he didn't actually announce a time or a date or anything like that. But he's definitely indicating there is this strong U.S. response for this kind of continued behavior.
SESAY: Are people criticizing him for wanting to take action in Syria because I haven't heard that. I feel like the criticism has been purely about him saying these missiles are coming.
FAULKNER: There has been criticism about the administration being proactive enough. There has been criticism -- a ton of criticism about the administration being too cozy with Russia. We're not being strong enough with Russia. Now you hear the President is clearly calling out Russia and its leaders in terms of who they're allying themselves with and what they plan to do what they're not planning to do.
SESAY: All right. Let's move on and as the President keeps one eye on Syria, he's obviously also keeping an eye on the Mueller probe and the recent raid on his personal attorney's office and hotel room and home has him extremely upset, to the point where the Washington Post has some interesting reporting today, suggesting that the Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon sees an opening.
Let's read this. Bannon and his allies sense that Trump simply needs a nudge the fire Rosenstein, according to people familiar with Bannon's discussion. They said Trump has recently told friends and aides that essentially he is willing to engage in political warfare in the coming months to stop his presidency from being consumed by the investigation.
Now according to the Washington Post, the strategy from Bannon is fire Rosenstein because he's overseeing the Mueller probe. Stop cooperating with Mueller and claim executive that the privilege over all the interviews that White House staffs have already done with Mueller. Mo Kelly, aside from the fact that Bannon is not a great legal mind as far as I know, what do you make of this.
KELLY: He is a dishonest broker. That's the first thing I would question, his intentions. And I would say this is one of those rare opportunities where we can use a phrase be not true, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. And his interest do not in anyway coincide I think with the Trump administration. And I will be willing to bet that he's trying to harm the administration by giving his bad advice.
SESAY: Chris, how do you see it? I mean Washington Post reporting, (Inaudible) a couple of people. Do you think he would ever make his way back into the Trump orbit?
FAULKNER: Well, first of all, there was that message. Because I absolutely think that Steve -- Steve Bannon is in an alternate reality. The only thing that matters to Steve Bannon is that we continue to talk about Steve Bannon. No one in the White House is talking to Steve Bannon anymore. The President certainly is not talking to Steve Bannon anymore.
And the only way for him to continue to stay relevant is for him to say things like this so he garners coverage. And therefore, he remains in some world or in some people's eyes some shred of relevancy.
SESAY: So back to you. You don't think there is an opening for him?
SESAY: OK. Moving on to that actors Hollywood tape, it is once again back in the spotlight. Thanks to the raid on Michael Cohen, the President's personal attorney's office, home, and hotel room. Let's just remind people of some (Inaudible) on the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Yeah, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the (Inaudible). You can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: So, according to New York Times' reporting, the warrant also covered the one with the (Inaudible) documents in relation to the Access Hollywood tape. It also covered emails and other documents that could reveal Mr. Cohen's private communications with Mr. Trump January 10, during his campaign.
And basically when Mr. Trump confronted the possibility of embarrassing details of his extramarital affairs, and they say that basically they're trying to scoop up all of this information. Mo Kelly, my question to you is this. Do you think the President will stay loyal to Michael Cohen? How do you see this one playing out, because he's increasingly the focal point of at least one lane of this investigation?
KELLY: I think we're getting dangerously close, close moving to target that's supposed the subject of the investigation. I am not so sure -- we don't know what we don't know. We don't know specifically what they're digging, what they'll find, but I do suspect that there is a thread of financial evidence which would tie.
[02:20:01] We can remove the salaciousness in terms of Hollywood Access or Karen McDougal or whomever, and get to the fact of there was money which changed hands, under what circumstances, and to cover up what hypothetically. They we'll get a better sense of who's going to turn on whom first.
SESAY: Chris, with this growing concern that the President is inching closer towards doing some thing that could leave to somebody losing their job Capitol Hill. They've stepped up efforts to pass legislation that could protect Mueller, and this is a bipartisan bill that is working its way through the Senate. Do you think it is necessary that such legislation is passed?
FAULKNER: I think that, as I've said repeatedly on this show, that if there is any fear on behalf of -- let's just be straight. Let's take congressional politics. Republicans run the House right now and the fact of the matter is they know full well it is extremely bad for their opportunity and for their ability to hold the House Representatives if Mueller gets fired, so political reality.
What is going to happen is if there is any shred of danger of Mueller being fired, they're going to pass legislation of protecting him. Because they know that is a death sentence for Republican majority both in the House and the Senate.
SESAY: So right now you think they will just -- it will never make it to the full for a vote right now.
FAULKNER: I'm saying if they believe...
FAULKNER: They'll pass it the next night.
SESAY: OK. We're going to hit pause on this conversation. We'll pick it up again. Mo Kelly, Chris Faulkner, always appreciate it. Thank you.
KELLY: Thank you.
FAULKNER: Thank you.
SESAY: Well, Pope Francis has been accused of having a blind spot when it comes to sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, but in a stunning move, he's now apologized for the way he handled one particular case.
SESAY: Well, CNN's Vatican Correspondent Delia Gallagher joins us now from Rome. And Delia, this is a remarkable turnaround. How did the Pope get to this point?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN, VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, this has been three long years since the Pope appointed Bishop Barros and has been hearing outcry from people in Chile against this Bishop. Nothing was done about it until after the Pope visited Chile this year when he decided to send a special investigator from the Vatican to Chile who returned in March with a 2300 page report, interviewing 64 victims in Chile.
[02:25:10] And we don't know the details of that report, but it was enough to prompt this letter from the Pope which was release yesterday, saying that he had made serious errors in assessment and judgment of this case. Isha, the reason that we are following this case so closely and that it is so important is because Pope Francis spent the last three years defending vigorously this Bishop, as you heard in that soundbite.
He called accusation against the Bishop slander. He said he believed he was innocent, and he said he didn't have any evidence against him, when in fact it transpired that he had received evidence against the Bishop's, his own Cardinal, the top Cardinal for the committee against sex abuse Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston hand-delivered a letter to Pope Francis from one of the victims detailing the abuses, and saying that this Bishop was in the room while those abuses occurred.
That letter was received by Pope Francis in 2015, and nothing was done about it. The Pope sent his investigator only in February of this year. And that is the reason why we now have the Pope's apology and request for forgiveness from the victims, Isha.
SESAY: All right. He is asking forgiveness. What's been the reaction from victims' groups in Chile?
GALLAGHER: Well, most of them are accepting of the Pope's request for forgiveness. They are obviously asking for zero tolerance, because the point of this case is that the Vatican has been dealing with these issues for 17 years now, since 2001. And from this particular case in Chile, it is clear that the structures that have been put in place by the Vatican in order to listen to victims and hold bishops accountable still are not effective, Isha.
SESAY: All right. Delia Gallagher joining us there from Rome, Delia, we appreciate it. Thank you.
Well, next here on CNN Newsroom L.A...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crowds entertained by an unknown mob and were put in a situation where we were worried that we could have been killed (Inaudible).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: A reporter jailed in Myanmar is slamming the government's case against them, a case that some see as a crackdown on free speech.
SESAY: You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour, Russian state media reports Syrian government forces have recaptured the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta. It was one of the last rebel-held areas in the country, and the site of last weekend's suspected chemical attack.
[02:30:04] The U.S. and the U.K. are now weighing plans for military action against the Assad regime. U.S. cripple one of the victims of the chemical attack in the U.K. says she doesn't need help from the Russian Embassy. The statement released by police, she said she's still suffering from the effect of the nerve agents that poisoned her and her father. Former Russian double agent who's still in the hospital. She is released on Monday. And Mark Zuckerberg face tougher questioning on his second day on Capitol Hill. Facebook CEO avoided making specific promises on protecting use of data. Lawmakers indicated support for government regulation of social media but no clear direction of legislation emerged. Well, the case against two Reuter journalists who are covering the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar will move forward. They're accused of having secret government papers and the judges that they must stand trial. Meanwhile, seven of Myanmar soldiers now face 10 years in prison for the very massacre of the journalists who are investigating. CNN's Anna Coren reports.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To what should have been a day of celebration, journalist Wa Lone spent his 32nd birthday in handcuffs Yangon courthouse by heavily armed police. His colleague and fellow defendant Kyaw Soe Oo trailed right behind him as both men were about to learn whether or not they would face trial for their work in uncovering a massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar last year. But in less than half an hour, the judge rejected a request for dismissal of the case against the two Reuters journalists who being charged with violating the official's secret act. It comes a day after seven Myanmar soldiers were sentenced to 10 years prison for the massacre in Indian village in Rakhine State. The ones who actually committed the massacre were in prison for 10 years cried 28-year-old Kyaw Soe Oo. But now the reporters who reported the story are in the situation of getting 14 years imprisonment, where in the justice in us. Because while standing behind him Wa Lone addressed the media.
Today our case was not dismissed, he said. I'm not really surprised since we were grabbed and detained by an unknown mob and were put in a situation where we worried that we could have been killed anyway. The two journalists were arrested back in December after meeting with police officers in a Yangon restaurant who handed him some rolled-up papers. Human rights groups have accused the police of entrapping them by giving the journalists documents where some prosecution claims were secret government papers. Lawyers for the journalists say they never had a chance to look at them. In a statement, Reuters president and editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler said, we are deeply disappointed with the court's decision. We believe that there are solid grounds for the court to dismiss this matter and to release our journalists. He added, they have not violated any laws in the course of a news gathering and were simply doing their jobs. We will do continue to do all we can to secure their release.
The massacre in September of last year was part of a wave of violent attacks on Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar's military described by the U.N. and U.S. as ethnic cleansing and genocide. An accusation Myanmar denies. The government maintains they were targeting terrorists not civilians. While thousands are estimated to have died up to 700,000 Rohingyas fled into neighboring Bangladesh now hones one of the world's largest Rohingya camps. Myanmar's defector leader Nobel piece laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has yet to speak out on behalf of the Rohingya. Instead sending her social welfare minister to visit refugees in Bangladesh as part of efforts to begin the repatriation process. It's the first government official to visit the camps since the exodus began in August of last year.
WIN MYAT AYE, MYANMAR SOCIAL WELFARE MINISTER: (INAUDIBLE) overgone all the difficulties. COREN: As believe Reuters journalists who will be defended by high- profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, they are now going to trial. I want to ask the government where is the truth, yells Walone. Where is the justice? Where are democracy and freedom? A case seen as further evidence of a crackdown on free speech in Myanmar. Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.
SESAY: Laura Haigh joins me now from London. She is a Myanmar researcher with Amnesty International. Laura, good to see you again. I mean, that's the central crosshair, isn't it? With this case the fact that the government admitted that there was a massacre, they have actually sentenced a number of soldiers to hard labor and yet the journalist who reported on it are themselves now in the dark. I mean, what should we take away from this what effectively is a circus by most people's account?
LAURA HAIGH, MYANMAR RESEARCHER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: I mean, I think just be very (INAUDIBLE) from the beginning that the trial against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is fuss and it's really not about the law even though the government may say that they're just following the rule of law. This is about searching an example and sending a message to other journalists that reporting on Rakhine State and reporting on the crisis that, you know, affects the Rohingya population is very much off limit and if you go beyond the lines, it will be set, you'll pay the price with your freedom.
SESAY: I mean, that being said, I mean, the judge refused -- he rejected the motion, he refused to drop the case, he refuse to throw it out. I mean, how do we see this going? I mean, is there a full blown conclusion now? At least now that we've seen that the case is going to continue?
HAIGH: Well, I don't think anyone should give up hope at this point. Clearly the case is going to progress, it's like going to a full trial. There is still a possibility that these two men should be released, that's absolutely what should happen. And the Myanmar has a history (INAUDIBLE) that form a military government of political police as when it's political opportune. So I don't think we should -- it sounds a bite that these two journalists views as a con in a (INAUDIBLE) international unity. The question is, if they'll do that and obviously run.
SESAY: Yes, absolutely. And to that point, the government being strategic in the use of releases, the defector leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been silent on this and of course the wider atrocities from the North Rakhine State involving the Rohingya. And any indication that she would weigh into this? I mean, can we see any situation where Aung San Suu Kyi would consider, you know, experience to her to speak out?
HAIGH: I think at the moment, no, the (INAUDIBLE) central government has been quite fair that this is a case for the courts and it is a matter of following the rule of law. Obviously in this case, the problem is the law itself is very restricted, it's a Draconian piece of legislation that's been used before against journalists. We've seen Parliament which is controlled by Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD. Yet no efforts really in the last two years to repeal these requested laws. We've seen the political prison of populations speedily increased. So importantly, or maybe it doesn't be very positive.
SESAY: To go back to the seven soldiers who was sentenced to jail with hard labor, of course these were the soldiers that, you know, were actually involved in the killing but -- I mean, there's a larger wider, broader apparatus I should say that, you know -- I'm talking about the generals, I'm talking about those on -- talking about the chain of command, I mean, we don't expect those people to be held accountable. I mean, that's the issue here. Who -- the people who gave the orders, will they ever be held accountable?
HAIGH: Well, I think that's the question. I think with this case, I mean, yes, we're talking about seven soldiers being convicted. It's a small second to right direction but ultimately this is military justice and this was the military back into a corner when the Reuters journalists uncovered this massacre. It is the tip of the iceberg when we look what happened Northern Rakhine state but it does have to be a process of accountability. I think it's very clear that the government in Myanmar -- I'm sorry, the chief government has very little interest or ability to bring the generals or the responsible to justice. And this is really where the international community need to suspect them. When we see a referral really of this situation to the international criminal court and a very strong message to Myanmar's military if they commit abuses like this, they will not go vanish.
SESAY: Yes. That's the hopes as the international community will finally step up and actually do something meaningful. Laura Haigh joining us there. Laura, we appreciate it. Thank you as always.
HAIGH: Thank you.
SESAY: Well, I'll do immediate report. At least 257 people were killed Wednesday when a military plane crashed near the capital of Algiers. The aircraft went down near the Boufarik Air Base. 10 of those killed are reporters to be members of the plane's crew. It's the deadliest plane crash since 2014 when 298 people were killed when a Malaysian Jetliner was shut down over Ukraine.
Well, thousands of mourners gathered in South Africa Wednesday to honor the woman known as the mother of the nation. A public memorial service was held for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The antipode icon and ex-wife of the late President Nelson Mandela. She died last week after a long illness at the age of 81. A state funeral will be held on Saturday. A quick break here. Then if you're sick of overcrowded planes, find more room to relax on your next flight in the cargo hold. Yes. You heard that right. We'll show you what it looks like, next.
SESAY: Wouldn't it be nice to lie down and take a nap on a long plane flight? It will be possible soon without flying first class.
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SESAY: Ah, sure. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.
[02:45:08] KATE RILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Hello and welcome along to World Sport. I'm Kate Riley in Atlanta. Where else to begin but yet another dramatic Champion League match on Wednesday. The pressure really was on Juventus. They also needed to score at least three goals in the second leg at Real Madrid.
It was a tall order, after all, they would be playing away at the Bernabeu Stadium, where Juve came after the block faster. Mario Mandzukic, finding the (INAUDIBLE) with his head to two minutes in. They withstood 13 minutes of Madrid all-out attack but managed to hold on and somehow grab a second goal. Mandzukic, again and it would be another header this time.
Would you believe it, they also went on and scored a third as well. Blaise Matuidi, to make it 3-0 Juve after horrendous Keylor Navas error. But this script was only just being written while in this overtime, and with Real, needing just one goal to advance the unit this point, but (INAUDIBLE) get a penalty after Medhi Benatia, clashes into the back of Lucas Vasquez.
The English ref Michael Oliver point to the spot. Plus Juve players giving and the veteran keepers (INAUDIBLE) was sent off by this time. We have six minutes and the injury time hit. Replace Buffon, on comes the ex. Also, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, and he knew he was about to face Cristiano Ronaldo, penalty, talk about stepping up to the place in the 97th minutes. CR7 steps up for the phase-in (INAUDIBLE) in the semis that take on stoppable play, his 110th Champions League goal as he scored in 11straight Champions League game, no less. Real advance 4-3 on aggregate, fast rates for Juve though.
Well, Wednesday's are the match, didn't come close to matching that for drama, Bayern Munich advance after a score is draw with Sevilla. But they won't mind is the 7th Champion League final in nine years for the German side.
We'll staying with the Champions League for a moment and forward, Juventus and their fans. But we are still thinking about what happened earlier on Wednesday. They came so close to a place in the semis after the mad Gianluigi Buffon, the legendary Juventus keeper who was sent off for protesting that painful penalty said, "The referee has a trash can where his heart should be.
All right, really has the making of a match which will be talked about for some time to come. Earlier, CNN's Patrick Snell spoke to Earnest Matthew. He thanks giveness with back home in Spain but still couldn't believe what he'd seen on the pitch earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ERNEST MACIA, EXPERT, SPANISH FOOTBALL: I think this is one of the most incredible games I've seen yesterday. Barcelona had lost incredibly in Italy, and I think that Madrid should have take -- to take this into account because it was a similar situation, and it was at home. So, I think that in semifinals, Madrid will act very, very responsibly because Champions League is their competition, it's (INAUDIBLE) for them.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, so many talking points, but I do want to ask you, on the night when you reference that Lionel Messi, he fell sure the previous night for Barcelona. But Cristiano Ronaldo, we have to talk CR7. He was there when his team needed the most. He didn't have the best 90 minutes by his very high standards. But then, all that waiting for the penalty. Just spell it out for us, where would Real Madrid be without him in this team?
MACIA: Well, when you have a Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi, of course, this is the reason. And especially when you have both of them incompetence, indirect competence. You have the best scenario for both sides. But in the case of Cristiano Ronaldo, I think that we have to give credit to (INAUDIBLE) because in a moment when Lionel Messi was consider and not only the best player of the current moment but probably, the best player for all times.
Cristiano Ronaldo showed that he could be a very good and a very important goal scorer for assisting, and even if the getting of this season and the last season, Cristiano Ronaldo was not there. He is on bed probably for injuries at the appropriate moment when it's March or April, Cristiano Ronaldo is at his best and he is ready to help the team with -- I know the Champions League, it's been two Champions League, it will be historic charismatic disable to (INAUDIBLE) to know the trophy.
RILEY: Well, thanks to Ernest Macia, for his time there. What a night for Real Madrid fans. Make sure you stay with us. CNN WORLD SPORT will be right back.
[02:52:16] RILEY: We are back with news from the NBA now. It's the last night to the regular season, and we don't remember a bug quite like this to the NBA playoff. There are so many storylines out there along with so many questions. For instance, who's going to emerge from the mighty Western Conference?
That will do the defending champion Golden State Warriors, winners of two of the last three titles to win the regular season. But the Houston Rockets -- and look how tight, that through the ninth place is. That final playoff spot will be determined as Minnesota hosts Denver, Wednesday night, over in the East Philadelphia can secure the number three seed with a win over Milwaukee.
If the sixth has prevailed, no team has posted ahead to the first season. It would be their 16th straight and this earth season. In fact, like Philadelphia, the Toronto Raptors are quite unproven once we reach this knock out stage. But the Raptors might have a secret weapon if they are top set LeBron James in the Cavs in the east.
A very louder supporter fan base, CNN's Patrick Snell, also basketball analyst and former NBA Champion Stephen Smith, about just that earlier.
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STEPHEN SMITH, CNN NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION ANALYST: When you said of these, they don't have to worry about fans. They has some of the most passionate fans in the National Basketball Association. Next for them is there are two stars who I loved. The DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. At times individually, they hadn't played well together. But then, to be successful, both guys have to play well and then the support in Cav like I talk about the bench have to make some noise in the playoffs to them to get to the Eastern Conference finals. And ultimately, then they get to the finals. And it won't be easy, because they will have to go through the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James.
SNELL: All of which brings me perfectly to more. And what has happened to more your expertise on old things. LeBron. Seems to be better than ever. Right now, I that fair? What's your expert assessment?
SMITH: You know what, I can't really put a finger on it because I know how it felt at 33 years old when I was playing in the NBA. Right now, he gets the chance. You hope, 82 games, the first time for him in his career which is phenomenal. He will lead the league in minutes. Also, in total points, until goes made.
And then, also, you -- this take Cleveland Cavaliers, we start off from day one in training camp. So, now, this team has totally been through some turmoil. Ahead of Kyrie Irving trade by Isaiah Thomas. And then, they have overall again, they bring in all these young guys. And we are still talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to make it back to the finals.
SNELL: He is always under such intense scrutiny, LeBron. How do you feel he handles himself? How does he handle all out?
SMITH: You know, he's been a constant and (INAUDIBLE) since day one. And you know, I know a lot of people look at and say that's what he supposed to do. But I was totally a bird when start talking about since you enter the league in 18 years old, and to now at 33, its been 15 years under the microscope. I think he's been a professional. I think he sounds as well, his stardom just as well as anybody has ever done it. Has been in a spotlight in any sport.
[02:55:17] SNELL: Exempted that west, as they say, you got let's start with the Houston Rockets in their standout season. What or who has been most impressive about them for you?
SMITH: To me is by far, the way they seem is transformed defensively. They brought in P.J. Tucker, they brought in Luba (INAUDIBLE), Chris Paul, guys who get after and grind it out. And they are still their offenses phone. And you can see, data had to runs this year where they've just blowing people out. And it's been easy, they bear Chris Paul in and out their lineup.
They having this to be quite compelling, who would be the most improved in his league? He pits a extremely well, and they love a shoot to three ball. And coach Antonio has done a nice job on letting those guys flow. We'll also make a short issue. They are a little bit more accountable and I think there's a coaches there, and Chris Paul, are having been able to win games when his ugly, and that's been their problem.
When this pretty game and they're knocking down trees, they're the best in the business. But to becomes ugly in the playoffs, they struggle last year. But I think, this year, they all get a chance of done a little bit higher, and little bit further.
SNELL: O.K. we have to go all the way back to 1995 for the last time they're actually, NBA Champions. Let me put you the spot here if I may. How equipped (INAUDIBLE). Do you feel to win again?
SMITH: Well, I think, they are very equipped, and I think also when you start to look at the Western Conference, San Antonio Spurs, no (INAUDIBLE) then, are still great (INAUDIBLE) and these Spurs have done a fantastic job. The Golden State Warriors, the knick-knack injuries they've have with Klay Thomps and Durant, and now, no Stephen Curry for the first round. And all of these games, and all the finals appearances they have, they could be a little bit fatigued. So, I think, when you start to look at the west, and this could be the year of the Houston Rocket, they have a great chance about everything was going on with the Western conference.
SNELL: Final question as we wrap this up. What specifically -- just pick out a couple of offbeat things for us Steph, what are you most looking forward to about these playoffs?
SMITH: First of all in the Eastern Conference, I am looking forward to Ben Simmons, (INAUDIBLE) the noise this young group can made. We talk about a trusted process. And then on the other side, I'm looking at Damian Lillard, and also C.J. McCollum. The Portland Trail Blazers, how far can they go?
They been knocking on the door every year, they are talented. They need some more talent, what can this group put a chance to at least get to the Western Conference Finals.
RILEY: Well, thanks to Stephen, for his time now. That's it from us, thanks for watching, stay with CNN, the news is next.